London’s Coffee is Going Cold

London’s Coffee is Going Cold

you’ve been sweating over your flat white all summer and
haven’t cottoned on to the new and altogether more refreshing
coffee craze – the mighty cold brew – you’ve got some catching up
to do. At the risk of joining the throngs of self-satisfied
caffeine snobs, we’ve been trying to drink better coffee recently.
And it has to be said, once you start sipping on the good stuff,
it’s hard to go back. Which is why it’s excellent news that
Sandows is
spreading through the city like wildfire, making their mark as some
of London’s best coffee. The company is the brainchild of best
friends Luke Suddards and Hugh Duffie, who cut their coffee brewing
teeth working together with the coffee masters over at TAP.

We paid a visit to Sandows’ new production facility in Hackney,
a masterpiece of brick walls, green pendant lights, and a whole
load of machinery that we were too scared to touch. The cold brew
craze has been insistently labeled ‘hipster’, and this little
Hackney haven does little to dodge the accusation. “We really want
to steer clear of this obsession with ‘cool,'” Hugh says. “We’re
making a product that we want to stick around, so that kind of
thing isn’t at the forefront of our minds.” It has to be said,
though, that Sandows is incredibly cool. Luke and Hugh have
designed a bottle that looks like a living icon. The brew comes in
pocket-sized glass flasks labeled with their striking blue and
white logo. The company is named after Eugen Sandow, the Victorian
‘father of body-building’ whose rippling pecks were perfected using
small movements designed to get results. Hugh explains that the
name is “just a nod to using unusual methods to strive for

So what are the methods? Sandows’ cold brew is created using a
meticulous steeping system, with technical bells and whistles at
every turn. We ask the boys to break it down for us. “The simplest
way to describe it is as ground coffee infused with cold water,”
Hugh explains. “There are a lot of variables in the process that we
have to control, though.” He whips out what looks like a mad
scientist’s handbag and shows us the ‘refractometer’ inside; a
piece of kit that measures how much light is flowing through the
water and how much of the coffee has dissolved in it. A coffee
telescope, if you will. This is just one of the methods that the
boys use to make sure their cold brew is as pure and delicious as
humanly possible.

“I like the geeky side of brewing,” Hugh says. “Things can get
extremely technical when it comes to coffee, but we certainly don’t
push that on the drinkers.” And it’s true. Coffee does seem to be
getting a little smarmy. We’ve all been there, panic-ordering a
cappuccino because we don’t know what anything else on the menu is.
We ask Luke and Hugh if they’ve noticed this surge of smug
baristary. “We’re definitely aware of this growing culture of
serious coffee,” they say. “We want it to be accessible and for
everyone to try it.” But it seems London doesn’t need much
convincing. Sandows’ classic bottled cold brew is cropping up in
big name shops, hotels, cafes and bars across London, while their
nitrogen-infused variety is being pulled from taps at some of the
city’s best coffee shops and bars. Our favourite way to drink it is
still straight from the bottle, tossing it back like alcoholics
with a hipflask.

And the good news doesn’t stop there. Sandows has recently been
showing the public that their cold brew, tonic water, gin and a few
plinks of ice is a marriage made in heaven. If you have yet to try
this potent concoction, we can vouch for its delicious,
buzz-inducing results. “London has just come in to the cold brew
game, so we want to show people how versatile it is,” Hugh

Visiting Luke and Hugh on a drizzly Friday, it’s clear how busy
they are. They dash to us from a meeting, and are off again like
shots as soon as we’re wrapped up. “We’re still at the beginning
stages, and it’s very intense. We’re in here a hell of a lot,” Luke
says.Their energy comes as little surprise, though, when Hugh
explains that between them they drink “a couple of litres of coffee
a day”. “It’s probably too much, to be honest,” Hugh says, his
eyelid flickering ever so slightly…

You can buy Sandows at Selfridges, Harvey Nichols. Fortnum &
Mason, Whole Foods and many more locations.

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